Around Town: Vanessa Williams, Richard Gere and More at the Roundabout Theatre Spring Gala

Gareth Pugh
Photo: Patrick McMullan
Vanessa Williams and Kristen Chenoweth

“He’s made four films. He’s been nominated for a total of 23 Oscars, and he’s won nine, including Best Picture, for Chicago,” Richard Gere said at the Roundabout Theatre Company’s salute to Rob Marshall on March 12. “They’ve grossed a combined total of more than $1.5 billion,” Gere added, introducing a clip of Marshall’s films, which also include Nine, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and Memoirs of a Geisha.

But movies are almost a sideline for Marshall, who is a prolific director and choreographer of Broadway musicals, including Kiss of the Spider Woman, Damn Yankees and Cabaret; hence the Roundabout Theatre tribute.

“I can’t praise him highly enough. I adore him,” Julie Andrews, a surprise guest at the gala, told FashionEtc. “He’s a very close friend, and I’m just very happy to be here tonight.”

Marshall arrived fast on her heels, and proclaimed himself overwhelmed. “I walked in and the first person I saw was Julie Andrews, and I thought, well, there you go,” he said.

Vanessa Williams took time from shooting the final episodes of Desperate Housewives for the tribute. “Rob put me into Kiss of the Spider Woman back in 1994. He made all the choreography coming from Chita Rivera, who won a Tony the role, and made her choreography fit me,” Williams said. “And that was the most satisfying, comforting thing that could happen, to actually take over a role and have it be organically changed to suit my strengths.”

Photo: Patrick McMullan
Julie Andrews

Mad Men’s John Slattery reminisced about working with the Roundabout. “I did Betrayal with Liev Schreiber and Juliette Binoche, and I was a little star-struck by Juliette Binoche for about eighteen weeks,” he said, laughing. “I think I got over it just about the last matinee. I think it was a Sunday, I finally started to relax.”

And so an astonishing stream of big names packed the Hammerstein Ballroom: Alec Baldwin, Matthew Broderick, Jane Krakowski, Nora Ephron, Kristen Chenoweth and Bernadette Peters, just to name a few who spoke, performed, or just lent their presence to the evening.

Oh, and some of the folks who couldn’t attend sent their accolades via video or letter, like Sophia Loren, Tony Bennett, Daniel Day-Lewis and Judi Dench.

Martin Short, who Marshall guided to a Tony Award for Little Me, hosted the show, and appeared at the end of the evening as his hilarious character Jiminy Glick, and forced Marshall up on stage for an impromptu, roast-like interview.

Marshall’s sister, multiple-Tony Award-winning director-choreographer Kathleen Marshall—yeah, that’s one talented family—wrote the evening’s show, including the insult-filled Jiminy Glick routine. “Kathleen, you’re dead,” the mortified Marshall quipped from the stage—when he managed to get a word in—during Martin Short’s non-stop comedy shtick.

The gala’s live auction included some really interesting stuff, including a walk-on role in Smash, a day on the Good Wife set, lunch with Stephen Sondheim, and a backstage tour of Broadway’s How to Succeed in Business, where the high bidder gets to schmooze with Nick Jonas.